Luke Wroblewski interview with Joe Welinske of Blink

Joe Welinske of Blink recently interviewed Luke Wroblewski, and as the ConveyUX website reports, Luke discusses the reaction to his book Mobile First. He offers suggestions for UX professionals on how to gain support for a mobile first design strategy.

You can hear the interview over at at ConveyUX, but I found the audio a bit of a struggle to deal with, so here’s my rough notes taken from that 15 minute interview. It’s not verbatim so apologies if I’m putting words in people’s mouths!

JW: It’s been a while since Mobile First came out. You’ve had time to see the impact, talk to people? How’s the philosophy of Mobile First going?

LW: As ever, different people (mis)interpret these things in different ways, and that’s definitely happened.

It’s amazing to see the applicability in areas I’d not previously considered.

Mobile’s growing like a weed, and it’s been nice to see the philosophy really get extended over the years.

People sometimes ask: Am I screwing the desktop version? I’ve been through enough of these exercises in the past and in fact this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Plus, what’s the difference between some of these desktop and tablet devices. Folding or removable touch screens – some are not that different. With Mobile First you’re doing something to help with a range of other touch devices – working towards tomorrow.

Another thing that comes up in the press now and then is that it’s really hard to create native apps and make it succeed – that it’s a blocker to going Mobile First.

Fred Wilson saidJust because something’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do it. Websites are hard – anything new is hard.

JW: Mobile First and expanding upwards – looking at implementation, what challenges are there with say practical issues like scalability wrt tools etc?

LW: My methodology is that the mobile version is a foundation to build on, so when you push to the web you enhance and layer in as you get more screen real estate.

That becomes the front end technical solution if you like. I see so many responsive web designs now that are great on phone, tablet and desktop.

JW: The use case of people working with content in a mobile environment is very different to expectations of needs for desktop content – is responsive web design still relevant there? Does mobile first methodology work there?

LW: Assuming mobile use is this moving on-the-go use case is a non starter. 20% of use is on the couch, with TV on. 39% use mobile in bathroom (61% are lying!), so usage is anywhere and everywhere.

Assuming mobile device usage actually means mobile (moving) context, and saying you’re going to change the interface or content to do XYZ is a mind reading/losing proposition. I don’t know anyone who’s made that work intelligently.

I’m not seeing anyone going about cutting out important functionality just for mobile. On mobile, if users come from a Google search and then find the stuff they were expecting isn’t there then they’re going to be pretty pissed off.

Just because my screen is small doesn’t give anyone insight to my behaviours, desires and needs.

I do believe there are certain contexts where you have certain information, then it’s common to have location based services so their mobile use has risen – but it’s still valid on desktop. But you just perhaps make the content less prominent on desktop compared to mobile.

So the question of context comes up a lot. You can tune the prioritisation or hierarchy of information, but the presence of the content is still valuable in either case. You can totally manage that with a responsive web design.

JW: How would you suggest people go about putting forward the case that Mobile First should be embraced.

LW: The easiest thing is to go look at your logs.

I spoke to 2 big companies yesterday – one has 30% mobile traffic, the other has during the week 40%, and the weekend 50/50

Chances are that’s the environment you’re living in. Look round at everyone else. Facebook has more than 50% mobile use. PayPal, eBay – use other people’s data as a proxy. These are actual use cases.



Want to share?

Lightning talk at Cambridge Usability Group, UXLondon Redux 2012

Thanks to organizers and other speakers, and to everyone who came to this evening’s UXLondon Redux event.

Below are my raw notes from my talk on Kano and the 90%, a brief talk on the recurring theme of customer experience which I found most inspiring at this years UXLondon event earlier this month. Big thanks to those who inspired me for this talk – Leisa Riechelt (@leisa), Jared Spool (@jmspool), and Leif Roy(@optimalNZ). Without their input, I would have had no output.

Below the notes is a prezi slideshow (which is only a slightly embellished version of my slides at the event).

UXLondon was an amazing event with lots of high quality speakers, loads of inspiration and there was probably hundreds of takeaways, but I’m going to cover just 3 that really inspired me the most.

The first big takeaway was that UX is growing up, not just as a field in its own right but in its relationship with related fields that have been around for longer.

One of the indicators of this was the recurring theme of Customer Experience (CX). Leisa Riechelt spoke about the relationship between UX and CX, and the importance of strategy for the business as a whole towards providing a great customer experience.

Obviously as a UX practitioner we use strategies and methodologies in our research, design, and provision of content, but if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we’re really looking at having an overall business strategy, albeit one where the user is at the core not the highest paid person’s opinion (HIPPO).

This overall structure includes CX which has long had the user’s needs at heart but with a stronger connection to business level roles and goals rather than at the design and development level (or deliverables level) which is traditionally where UX comes in. So strategic UX looks at getting the UX profile raised within the organisation – being inclusive of everyone from the top down, and from an early stage.

Another speaker at UXLondon, Leif Roy, flew over from New Zealand to give a 15 minute talk on how his team at Optimal Usability approached the design of a new type of economy class seating for Air New Zealand. Now what they were doing was not just looking at the needs of the passengers during the flight – they were taking this step back and looking at the bigger picture – the whole customer experience. They were designing an experience, with anticipation, interaction, engagement, and subsequent memories. They were designing for the whole customer journey. In her talk Leisa Riechelt was advocating the use of user journey maps that let you view and design for this whole customer experience. She also said: UX is not CX, UX needs CX.

The most inspiring point for me came when Jared Spool spoke about how four factors are coming together in UX at the same time in order to create this perfect storm that UX is in the middle of. Now he was talking about mobile and its market maturity was one of these four factors, but really what he was talking about is applicable to UX as a whole.

One of these four factors was the Kano Model, which isn’t exactly new – it was created by Noriaki Kano in the 80′s (1980′s). The Kano Model is a two dimensional graph – there’s an x-axis and a y-axis, and they cross in the middle. On the x-axis is the investment of the organisation. Investment can be time, effort, research, whatever. Essentially it boils down to cost but cost is a negative word so we’ll call it ‘willingness to invest’.

On the y-axis is the user or customer response to using the product or service that the organisation produces. It ranges from frustration at the bottom to delight at the top

In the middle, where the axes cross is this area we call satisfaction. It’s a neutral term.

There’s 3 main lines on this model. The simplest is a straight line from bottom left to top right, which is simply ‘performance’. The more willingness there is to invest, the better the response we get back from the user – you get back what you put in.

Then there’s two interesting curves here. The curve at bottom right describes the user’s basic expectations. Some basic expectations don’t take so much investment – lets face it, if you can’t even meet the most basic of expectations, you don’t have a product. But to meet all the basic expectations actually takes quite a bit of effort. The key element of this curve is that it never rises above the x-axis. Even if you meet all the basic expectations, you can’t do more than just ‘satisfy’ the user.

Now if we’re serious about providing a good user experience, then we want to do more than just satisfy the user – we want to ‘delight’ the user.

It turns out we don’t have to work too hard in order to come up with some nice features that get the user above the satisfied state. This other curve at top left rises from the satisfaction level up towards delight, as the organisation is more willing to invest. These are added value features – the elements that make your product or service unique, easy and pleasurable to use – the things that delight us. We’ll call those excitement generators.

There’s no use, by the way, of having these excitement generators without also meeting the basic expectations. The one is built on top of the other.

The interesting thing about the Kano model is that there is an invisible dimension. Over time, these excitement generators start to become taken for granted, in fact they move down to become basic expectations, and new excitement generators have to be brought in, so the playing field is always changing. But that’s ok because technology is always changing and when technology changes, people’s behaviour changes, and some of these basic expectations aren’t really needed any more so there’s this beautiful balancing act going on across the chart. It turns out the Kano model is really good at predicting the future of things we’re building.

So coming back to Leif Roy and Air New Zealand: their big excitement generator was this economy class seating such that could turn into lay flat surfaces that you could lie down on and sleep during long haul flights. Lay flat seats on economy class – whoever heard of that! Cattle class is the realm of prolonged and painful experiences. Hipmunk give their flight plans a rating – they call it an Agony Rating, and here’s Air New Zealand promoting this wonderful experience. It’s more than just about customer satisfaction; it’s about a great customer experience.

And as UX practitioners, it’s our role to be part of producing this customer experience. UX is not CX, but UX needs CX, but CX needs UX too. Multiple skills are required in order to work in this grown up field of UX, like copywriting, content strategy, information architecture, design process management, user research practices. And we need to understand the technologies involved; marketing, analytics, business knowledge, ROI, social networks, story-telling and lots more. This is all stuff that makes up a business and this is what lies behind building a great customer experience.

Jared Spool went on to mention Sturgeons Law, or as it’s more correctly named, Sturgeons Revelation. Theodore Sturgeon was at a science fiction event when the question was asked ‘Why is 90% of science fiction crap?’ Sturgeon thought about this and posited that science fiction wasn’t special and that actually 90% of everything is crap.

Thinking about it, that’s pretty much right on the money. 90% of everything IS crap. If you look at our Kano model, many products and services fail to meet all the basic expectations and certainly do little to delight us. And the people behind them probably aren’t willing to invest.

The result is that this 90% of everything that is crap falls into this bottom left quadrant.

But we have a choice when designing and creating our user experience. We can choose to be in this 90% of crap, or we can choose to be in this 10% that is good – and perhaps even strive to be in the 1% that is brilliance.

We have a CHOICE – YOU have a choice.

Want to share?

User Experience, Customer Experience, The Kano Model and the 90%

Tonight I will be giving a lightning talk at the Red Gate offices for the UXLondon Redux Event. I’ll be speaking on the relationship between User Experience, Customer Experience, The Kano Model and Sturgeon’s Law: topics and relationships that inspired me during the event, and that I’d like to share. I’ll add the notes and slides of my talk here afterwards.

I’ll also be speaking at the Mobile East conference on 29 June – talking about ‘Mobile Last’ – Considering the mobile experience when it’s too late for ‘Mobile First’. Mobile First is a great action to bear in mind when creating a new website or product, but for many who have already invested in the desktop browser, this advice comes too late. This talk covers some of the considerations to take into account when transitioning to mobile, including the difference between types of user and their behaviour; the constraints and opportunities that mobile provides; and strategies for mobile content delivery, organisation, layout, and navigation.

Want to share?

Is Google an instant success (again)?

Google have introduced Google Instant and now Google Instant Pages (in Chrome). The basic fact is that user input (ie typing) is slow. In terms of how fast the computer and the data transfer rate over the internet, then typing is comparatively veeeerrrry sssslllooooowwww. So there is a period of time while the user is typing that the computer is just sitting there waiting for the next letter – and the next – and the next. So why not fill in the gap doing something useful.

That’s just what Google Instant Pages does. It looks at what you typed already, what you’ve looked at in the past, what the top likely results are so far, and goes off and starts loading the web page right away.

Google Instant has being doing something similar for search results changing real time as you type, but now it loads the web page for the most likely result straight away, if the most likely result isn’t a web page you get the search results as normal.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not the right one (you haven’t wasted any time remember) – you can keep typing as normal until the resulting web page starts to look more likely to contain what you were searching for, or you get the standard search results instead.

Yep – it’s distracting at first as things seem to be changing under your feet a bit, but give it a bit of time to get used to it and you’ll find yourself saving time because Google already loaded the webpage whilst you were typing, so you don’t even have to finish. Touting the saved amount of time as 11 hours per second, the claim seems to be greater productivity for the (online) human race.

The problem with the previous version of Google Instant, where the search results appeared as you were typing was that it was difficult to process both what you were typing and what was appearing on screen – especially for those who can’t touch type and are always looking at the keyboard. Now with the likelihood of the whole webpage loading ‘instantly’, the ability to visually process the appearance of the (larger) actual webpage is improved thanks to images, headlines, layout and many other subtle characteristics rather than a collection of visually similar textual search results.

This could be a great step forward in make search efficient. That’s great for Google, and great for those browsers that copy the mechanism or take advantage of Google’s planned open source – (at least for Google Instant).

The problem is there’s an awful lot of websites out there that provide internal search tools that are suddenly going to seem very slow in comparison.

So while Google might say the web is going to seem faster, then actually once you’ve used Google Instant and Instant Pages, then in comparison – until everyone is using the same technology, the web is only going to be perceived as slower.

Want to share?

Are cookies off the menu?

The news report (bbc) that websites must soon get explicit consent to use cookies in order to store information is bound to lead to confusion for all stakeholders of a browsing session, not least of all the people browsing websites themselves who while browsing a website that has taken the directive to heart will likely be bombarded by a plethora of popups asking if they can have permission to use cookies. (And that’s assuming that popups are turned on by the user!).

The downside is that many users might feel that if they are having to be asked for permission then they are not going to grant it because they don’t understand the need for it.

Websites will need to be redesigned in order to find an alternative or backup method of storing snippets of information that generally go to improve a users experience of navigating between pages of a site and the experience of return visits at a later date.

I myself found in my own browser history a list of 500+ websites with between 1 and 15 cookies each.

The good (and admittedly the bad) of cookies is that it happens invisibly. If I were in a mean old mood I might invite users to delete all their cookies and turn on prompts for accepting cookies (you can do this in Internet Explorer, but Firefox at the time of writing allows you to accept or block but does not prompt.)

The truth is that anyone doing this is going to find themselves having to remember login usernames, will find wish lists and baskets emptied, website preferences forgotten, immediately expired pages, searches failing, and an inability to stay logged in on some websites, and much more besides. That is the impact of rejecting cookies. Because it happens behind the scenes, the smartness of websites is rather taken for granted.

Trying this out myself though, and browsing to the very article on this topic on the bbc website I am prompted 9 times for a cookie to be set or changed, and the information commissioners office is certainly no better.

Give people the opportunity to reject something they do not understand, and they surely will do so. The result – the web for most users will suddenly seem… well – a bit broken and not so smart after all.

That – is until websites and browser producers find another way to think their way around it.

We will be keeping an eye on the real world impact of this topic – that’s for sure!

Want to share?

We haven’t just started to think ui – we don’t stop

We might have just launched our new website, but we haven’t just started thinking about ui. The fact is we don’t stop thinking about ui!

User interface isn’t just about software and websites – we all interact with things almost every waking minute of every day. We love good design and good ui with a passion – if there’s a ui gene, we’ve got it and it’s wonderful!

It’s  a passion that doesn’t just fill a job from 9-5 (as if that was our regular hours!), but a passion that makes us want to improve a user’s experience with everything we see and touch; a passion that sees us mulling things over at night and scribbling down ideas as soon as we wake up.

It’s a passion we want to share with so many more clients than we have time for. Sometimes, just sometimes we have to accept that there are not enough hours in a day to help everyone make all the lovely ui they need – but we prefer not to think about that.

Want to share?